A lonely youth fills his days spying on neighbours and receiving merciless beatings at school, until he befriends a seemingly innocent young girl who moves in next door. Then his life gets really hard.
Let Me In (2010)
Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins
What sets Let Me In apart is that it’s a Horror Film, but from the opposite perspective
The fear associated with American adaptations of popular continental phenomena has diminished in recent years, and Let Me In is a prime example of why. It overflows with themes such as parental neglect, bullying, innocence lost, misconceptions regarding evil and violence. These themes parallel and reflect each other clearly, offering constant insight into an altogether dark and dreary world. It’s rare a horror can force you to acknowledge the sweet side of a man having his face burned off by acid: Pretty rare.
What sets Let Me In apart is that it’s a Horror Film, but from the opposite perspective. Each character is disturbingly sympathetic, no matter how much blood they spill. Despite their monstrous deeds, everyone shows some humanity, which is rather ironic in certain cases.
In many ways, it is the bullying sequences, rather than the brutal murders, which brim with the most tension, as they remain a worrying anomalous threat. But just as we resign ourselves to condemning the little sods, traces of sympathy arise.
Despite another brief yet especially moving display by Richard Jenkins, The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee (14) and Kick-Ass’ Chloe Grace Moretz (13) carry the weight of the film, and often the world, on their adolescent shoulders. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves does a splendid job ensuring that a pre-pubescent half-platonic half-romantic love story remains the heart of Let Me In, despite the copious amount of blood and gore which surrounds it. It’s essentially the adorable, heartbreaking tale of two children, Owen and Abbey who simply need each other. One of them just happens to eat people.
In fact the concept of “Evil” is finally addressed directly and intelligently, not blinded by social brainwashing or a bigoted “Killing=Evil” maxim. Abbey merely has a condition. Like anyone else, she has to kill things to keep up her habit of living. She doesn’t apologize for this fact nor does she revel in it. She just accepts it and moves on. She seeks to manipulate Owen into caring for her, but her intentions stem as much from her love for him as her need to eat. Not all lonely people are as considerate.
Case in point being Owen’s divorcing parents. It’s clear they love him, yet both are too consumed by their own frustration and pain to notice their son. And when your son starts hanging around with Vampires it’s time to get over yourself!
Let Me In suffers minor flaws, which, fittingly, don’t stand up under a harsh light. Spontaneous combustion via sunlight and the horrific side effects of ignoring invitational compulsions are cleverly orchestrated, yet they don’t quite fit this realistic take. The CGI is obvious, but it does look creepy and visceral.
Such minor criticisms are scarcely noticeable next to the quality of Let Me In’s excellent storytelling. Owen is almost predestined for an unhappy fate from the opening, yet despite his horrific predicament, he is clever enough to realize his murderous new friend isn’t just a monster. And she loves him dearly.